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Really awsome article on Palestinian children that played a violin concert at a Holocaust survivors center in Holon, Israel (city south of Tel Aviv).
Some good news of the day!

Blessings
Stephanie :)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/world/middleeast/26jenin.html?_r=...
Palestinians Serenade Survivors in Israel

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: March 25, 2009
HOLON, Israel — For just over an hour on Wednesday, a club for elderly Holocaust survivors on a side street in this suburban town south of Tel Aviv came alive with an encounter of an extraordinary kind.

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The New York Times
Many Israelis see Jenin as the capital of suicide bombers.
A youth orchestra came to play for the elderly Israelis, a good turn that might pass in other countries as routine. In this case, though, the entertainers were Palestinians, a group of musicians 12 to 17 years old from the Jenin refugee camp, once a notorious hotbed of militancy and violence in the northern reaches of the West Bank.

Holocaust survivors and descendants of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war would make bizarre companions at the best of times, but the Jenin camp strikes a particular note of discord.

The capital of suicide bombers to the Israelis and a symbol of resistance to the Palestinians, it was the scene of a bloody battle between advancing Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in 2002. Four years later, a young Israeli man from Holon was killed in one of the last suicide attacks in Israel, when a Palestinian from Jenin blew himself up in a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Adding to the dissonance, one of Jenin’s militant leaders in the second intifada was commonly known as Hitler, a nickname he had answered to since his teens.

Yet for a while on Wednesday, the politics of the conflict were put aside. The youths scratched at their violins and the Holocaust survivors clapped along, trying to keep up with the changing rhythms of the darbouka drums.

“We are here to play,” Wafaa Younis, 51, the Israeli Arab orchestra director, told the rapt audience. “I do not believe in politicians, only musicians and these children.”

Any potential awkwardness may have been dulled by the language barrier — other than Ms. Younis, the Palestinians spoke only Arabic; the survivors only Hebrew and their native European tongues. Each also appeared to have only the sketchiest knowledge about the other side.

Zehava Zelevski, 73, was born in Poland and came to Israel via camps in Germany for displaced people in 1948. Her three brothers were killed during the Second World War. Ms. Zelevski said she knew about the Jenin camp from television and the newspapers, remembering that “all the terrorism came from there.”

One of the young musicians, Qusai Samur, 17, looked blank when asked about the Holocaust. He said he knew only what somebody here had told him — that these people lived alone as children because their parents had been killed.

The event, at the Amcha Center, was organized as part of Israel’s annual Good Deeds Day, an initiative of Shari Arison, a prominent Israeli-American businesswoman and immensely wealthy heiress.

Ms. Arison said in an interview before the concert that she came up with the idea for Good Deeds Day while taking a walk a few years ago. Anybody, whether rich or poor, can help a blind person cross a street, cheer someone up with a smile or help with someone’s shopping bags, she said.

Most of the day’s events are organized by Ruach Tova, an organization of the Arison Group that couples nonprofit groups with volunteers.

Ms. Younis, the orchestra director, had told Ruach Tova that she wanted to bring the Jenin camp youth orchestra, Strings of Freedom, to perform in Israel. Ruach Tova made the match with Amcha, an Israeli association that provides Holocaust survivors with emotional and social support.

The first item in the short concert was a specially composed Arabic song, “We Pray for Peace.” The youths performed it standing, with the seriousness of a funeral dirge. Things livened up a little once the darboukas came out. Ms. Arison, who attended the well-publicized event, was invited to dance.

By the end, it was hard to tell who had done the good deed for whom.

After the concert, Ms. Zelevski, the survivor, said she was “surprised” and “very excited,” seeing things were possible “not by war.” Debating the rights and wrongs of the conflict among themselves, some of the elderly Israelis commented that the Palestinian musicians were “only children” and were not to blame.

The young Palestinians, on a rare trip out of the West Bank, were all smiles. They had performed three times before in the Israeli port city of Haifa, but this was the closest they had come to the Israeli cultural metropolis of Tel Aviv.

Soon, a staff member from the Amcha Center politely asked the orchestra and attendant journalists to vacate the small hall. It was time for the survivors’ exercise class.

Outside, some of the elderly Israelis and the young Palestinians mingled, trying their best to interact.

Ms. Younis, a feisty retired music teacher, appealed for support. She said that an Israeli playwright, Dan Almagor, had donated violins for the Jenin youths, and that the Mormon University in Jerusalem had given other instruments and equipment, but that the orchestra needed more.

“Israel should give them violins,” she said. “We take the pain out of people’s hearts.”

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Neri,

You're entitled to your opinion. Nevertheless, the facts are:

1. This was premeditated,
2. Many people in the news as well as the staff from that auditorium were fully aware of the event.
3. The parents were not told on purpose.
4. Mrs. Younis would be guilty of kidnapping in almost every judicial system on the planet.

My question is this, "If her intentions were so noble, why did she deliberately keep the parents in the dark and not tell the kids beforehand? Don't you think such a worthy cause would be fully accepted by the parents?"

Mrs. Younis is applauded for doing a noble deed, but she refused to inform the parents or children beforehand. Why would a noble cause necessitate kidnapping the children? Why is it ABSOLUTELY necessary to keep the parents completely in the dark, and not tell the children until after they arrived?

Help me, Neri. Please show me how it is very commonplace in the world for children to be taken to places they were never informed about and how it is very commonplace to NOT tell the parents at all before taking the children. If you can give me all these wonderful examples around the world where the parents are never told where their children are going, nor why they are going there, until the children returned home.

Now, whether anyone agrees with me or not, isn't really that relevant for me.

Some quotes to show how neutral that story is:

"Many Israelis see Jenin as the capital of suicide bombers."

"from the Jenin refugee camp, once a notorious hotbed of militancy and violence in the northern reaches of the West Bank."

"The capital of suicide bombers to the Israelis and a symbol of resistance to the Palestinians, it was the scene of a bloody battle between advancing Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in 2002."

That one is one of my favorites. The Israeli forces are described as "advancing" while the Palestinians are described as "gunmen."

"Four years later, a young Israeli man from Holon was killed in one of the last suicide attacks in Israel, when a Palestinian from Jenin blew himself up in a restaurant in Tel Aviv.
Adding to the dissonance, one of Jenin’s militant leaders in the second intifada was commonly known as Hitler, a nickname he had answered to since his teens."

Jenin has "militant leaders"??? Whatever happened to "government officials"??? I guess Jenin doesn't have any government officials, only militant leaders. And it is apparently a REQUIREMENT that the only official from Jenin who is talked about would have a nickname of Hitler. Pure happenstance, right? No where is it even mentioned what "Hitler" actually said. We are left to decide what a "militant leader" named "Hitler" must have said.

"Ms. Zelevski said she knew about the Jenin camp from television and the newspapers, remembering that “all the terrorism came from there.”

Why is it necessary to constantly paint Jenin in such a horrible role?? Why is it necessary to call a Palestinian government official a "militant leader"?? Is that the way to bridge the divide. By casting aspersions on the Palestinian leaders and parents??

I totally agree. There is no bias in this story whatsoever. The parents should have kissed the feet of the Israelis when they brought their children back. After all, most Palestinians who are taken by the Israelis go straight to prison, not return back to their homes.
Now, whether anyone agrees with me or not, isn't really that relevant for me.

but you write so much, why do yo write here?
Do you try to educate us from your noble virtue?

myfriend, to avoid war we need to have some compassion and recognize people make mistake and fix them instead of conclusion of conspiracy and crime as you do.

I did not protected Mrs. Younis; i tried to protect you from your own mistake of doing the same as your enemy.

your cynicism is vicious.
Neri,

When I grew up there was still a lot of open racism against the Blacks and Hispanics. But everytime I confronted someone with their racist remarks, they would say, "Ahh, you're too sensitive. How do you expect them to become part of society as long as you put a barrier between us. They "know" it's all in good fun."

Sorry if my criticism is too harsh for some, but I have seen racism for too long to stand quietly on the sidelines and murmur, "You are a racist." I never start out attacking people, but if they defend illogical positions with idiotic and racist reasoning, I won't just walk away.

As I have repeatedly said, get some actual Palestinians here and let them make the call. Even now it's hard for me to believe that people who have children can't see the problem with their child disappearing for hours and be used as a pawn for obvious propaganda purposes. I cannot fathom what parent would ever allow their child to go away and not knowing exactly where that child is at all times.

Again, I don't start out with ill intent. I tried to give a logical understanding to this debate on several levels. No one here apparently knows the Palestinian position very well. No one here has made one single sentence in defense of the Palestinians here. I think it's very sad not to look at both sides of an issue, but it seems that that is all that can happen here and any attempt at looking at the other point of view is met with criticism, denunciations and incredulous astonishment. There is only one view being represented here, the Israeli view.

That's very sad. Peace never comes when one group is constantly denigrated and the other constantly honored. Apparently, that is the only possible outcome here. Denigrate the Palestinians and honor the Israelis. That's not my problem, it's yours. I like to think that both sides are equal in blame and equal in compassion. I regret that this concept cannot be tolerated here.
No one here apparently knows the Palestinian position very well. No one here has made one single sentence in defense of the Palestinians here.

this is not accurate, check the other comments on this and in other discussion we had about this topic.

as you say,

It is wrong to take the children without parental consent to do anything..
Basil,

Thank you very much. At last, a voice of reason.

Actually, the children were all minors. As such, their parents are responsible for their every action in society. It is wrong to take the children without parental consent and then use them for political and propaganda gain.

The hate is out there and it's on both sides. Stealing the children for propaganda purposes will only infuriate one side more and move both sides farther apart.

Thanks,
Basil,

You are indeed wise.

Thank you very much. I am not Palestinian, nor am I Muslim, but that doesn't prevent me from wanting to help the disadvantaged, to right the wrong and to promote peace and understanding. One CANNOT promote peace through deception, and this story was about just that. Even the articles that appeared about this event constantly criticized and debased the Palestinians while portraying the Israelis as nothing more than simple people wanting peace. That can ONLY promote hatred, not peace.

This lady organized everything. She spoke with and organized with that rich lady. She organized the location. She organized the media presence. Everything was so organized she had to apologize for being 30 minutes late for her own organized appearance. HOWEVER, in all of her planning and organizing she did NOT ONCE tell the parents nor the children what she was planning to do. How anyone can look at such obvious propaganda and hate-driven events and pretend that there was nothing but peace on her mind is lunacy.

But she got her desired effect. Almost every single article spoke of the poor Israelis commemorating the past horrors that befell them and at the same time denigrating and belittling the parents of the children. There is absolutely no way anyone can say that such obvious propaganda is done for peace purposes only.

But I really feel bad for the children. They were doing something they liked, something their parents liked for them to do, and something which had brought immense pleasure to themselves and their families up to that point. To return to upset parents who would obviously look at this event with glowing disgust has got to confuse and hurt the children as well. One thing I can guarantee that resulted from this whole "peace and love" propaganda show, those children will forever more look at any suggestion or offering from ANY Israeli as a possible booby trap that will end up hurting them, their family or their community. The deceit part of this event has got to be seared into their brains now forevermore. And that is truly sad. Such wonderful and gifted children have been spiritually hurt by these events and scarred forevermore.

The exact opposite of peace was sought by this event, and it achieved 100% success.
Jeffrey,

I agree I looked at the worst case scenario in this. As you say, there's no guarantee. I have looked, but found nothing either way and I certainly hope you're right and I'm completely wrong.

My scenario exists if those children are severely reprimanded by their parents for having participated in an event they had no control over and their peers also make fun of their unfortunate incident. That doesn't have to be and certainly there is nothing "normal" about their existence there. As far as being 'happy" they participated, I sincerely doubt they are going to have many good memories of the event. Let's not forget that prior to this occurring, they had an orchestra, they had a music teacher, they had a meeting place and lesson plan and they had surely many warm feelings from their parents about doing this.

Now the teacher has been expelled and most assuredly the parents pointed out the reason why many times. The band is disbanded. The lessons are no more. The trust their parents had for the teacher has been violated and most assuredly they are very upset about it. I certainly hope there is no more negativity for the children than this, and that down the road they CAN look at the whole process with happiness and contentment and not just dwell on the final night's unfortunate events.
Stephanie,

I don't see a way to respond directly to your post, so I will do so here. I'm sorry if the impression I gave was one of accusing you for this story or for having prejudice in your words. I am making general statements here of what I've seen and I am not directing them to any specific poster.

The event here is of dubious origin and intent mainly because it expressly avoided the inclusion of the parents. I am very hopeful that a solution can be found to unite all factions into a peaceful, harmonious and productive environment where all benefit equally. I also realize that there are many gigantic hurdles to overcome, both in the Near East and elsewhere. I will raise my voice of concern wherever I see the need and again, it is not directed at you in any way.

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